Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Then Joshua called the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh,III. THE FINAL WORDS OF JOSHUA AND THE EPILOGUE
1. The Two and One-half Tribes and the Altar Ed
1. Joshua’s address (Joshua 22:1-6)
2. The tribes dismissed and their return (Joshua 22:7-9)
3. The great altar erected (Joshua 22:10)
4. War proposed (Joshua 22:11-12)
5. The mission of Phinehas and the explanation (Joshua 22:13-29)
6. The explanation accepted (Joshua 22:30-31)
7. The altar Ed (Joshua 22:32-34)
A beautiful scene is before us. Joshua, the aged servant of God, called the Reubenites, the Gadites and half of Manasseh. Their selfish choice is selecting their portion on this side of Jordan is found in Numbers. They had, however, to pass over Jordan with the other tribes and help them in the conflict (Joshua 1:12-18). The promise they had made was conscientiously kept and the time for their return to their habitations had come. Joshua commends them for their faithfulness, and exhorts them to love the Lord, to walk in all His ways, to keep His commandments, to cleave unto Him and to serve Him. May we also heed these words. Only as we walk in all His ways and are obedient to His Word can we enjoy the fellowship and the spiritual blessings which belong to us. They returned with great riches, with silver, gold, brass, iron and raiment.
They erected, after their homegoing, a great altar (Hebrew: An altar great to the sight). It was of immense size, so that it might be seen far and wide as a silent witness. When the rest of Israel heard of this altar, and thinking that it meant a separate worship, instituted by these two and a half tribes, they were ready to go to war. They exhibited great zeal for the Lord and were ready to carry out His Word. See Exodus 20:24; Leviticus 17:8-9; Deuteronomy 7:5-13; Deuteronomy 8:7-13. But while they were zealous, they also exhibited wisdom and sent Phinehas with ten princes to investigate the supposed apostasy. The explanation follows and is accepted. The altar was then called Ed, which means “witness.” It was to bear witness between them, that the Lord is God, and that the tribes, though separated by Jordan, are one people. But where is today the witness in Christendom that there is one body? That witness seems to have been lost.